Founded in January 2004, the Interfaith Center of Greater Philadelphia emerged as a regional response to the national tragedy of 9/11. The Center was formed by individuals from a wide diversity of backgrounds – including clergy and lay persons with experience in interfaith relations – who wanted to transform the tragic event into a catalyst to affect positive change in this community. To do this, they envisioned a Center that could facilitate reconciliation, mutual trust, and common action across religious communities and where cross-cultural and multi-faith education, dialogue, and collaborative endeavors could flourish.
Years later, this bold vision continues to evolve and unfold in exciting and innovating ways. In its earliest days, the Center began its work by facilitating a host of community programs and dialogues. Ultimately, these evolved into more formal conferences and workshops and, over time, the scope of our work has broadened significantly to encompass three critical areas: 1. youth development, service learning, and leadership; 2. adult learning, dialogue, and leadership; and 3. serving as the convener of the Religious Leaders Council – a group of 26 of the most prominent religious figures from across the region.
By the end of 2010, we had served nearly 10,000 individuals, partnered with more than 150 local religious congregations and institutions and two dozen civic and service organizations, and, to this day, remain one of the few organizations of our kind across the country. We’ve been called upon at the highest levels of city government and local business to help create programs that promote understanding, cooperation, and relationships between individuals of different faiths. We at the Center teach more than mere tolerance; we believe that embracing diversity in our neighborhoods, institutions, and workplaces is the key to building a cohesive, compassionate, and thriving society – contributing to the kind of region and world in which we want to live.
Organizational and Infrastructure Growth
- Start-up, experimental programming
- One part-time staff person
- $26,000 operating budget
- 890 participants
- Three well-established program areas, including the nationally-recognized Walking the Walk
- Six (almost full-time) staff, along with multiple interns from neighboring universities
- $375,000 operating budget
- 10,000 direct participants, plus tens of thousands represented by over 24 community partners and nearly 2 million affiliated with Religious Leaders Council communities